Advantages and Disadvantages of a Fixed-rate Mortgage

It is a decision that is almost as important as which house you purchase – which type of mortgage to get. Choosing the right mortgage for your specific needs can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the term of the mortgage. Your two basic options when it comes to a mortgage will be a fixed rate (FRM) or an adjustable (ARM) mortgage, although you may also be able to qualify for other options such as an FHA loan or a VA loan.

Most home buyers take out a fixed rate mortgage – around 70{ef6a2958fe8e96bc49a2b3c1c7204a1bbdb5dac70ce68e07dc54113a68252ca4} of all mortgages are fixed rate as opposed to adjustable. A fixed rate mortgage is exactly what it sounds like: the interest rate on your loan will not change, regardless of the economy or whether interest rates rise or fall. The terms and conditions of a fixed rate mortgage are also protected by law. An adjustable rate mortgage will go up or down depending on the interest rate at the time. Whether you should choose a fixed rate or adjustable mortgage depends on the general state of the economy along with your financial situation and the risk you are willing to take.

If interest rates are low when you take out a mortgage, or if you just do not want to take the risk of them increasing, you are probably better off with a fixed rate mortgage. If you have a large mortgage, whereby even a slight rate increase may mean a big increase in your monthly mortgage payment – you are perhaps better off with a fixed rate. If you are simply the cautious type who does not like taking a risk, a fixed rate mortgage is typically the best option for you.

The obvious advantage is that the interest rate does not change – and neither will the amount of your monthly payment. You always know exactly how much you will be paying each week and can thus budget more accurately; the amount of your monthly payment will only increase if the amount of insurance rates or the amount of property taxes increases. Some borrowers consider it easier to plan for other big expenses, such as college funds and retirement, with a fixed rate mortgage.

A fixed rate mortgage does not take into account the cost of living or inflation. In other words, as time goes by and you are perhaps earning more money and everything else costs that much more – your mortgage payment is going to stay the same. Arguably, this can mean more money in your pocket – in 20 years from now, you may be earning more money than you are now, but your monthly house payments are going to stay the same.

The biggest disadvantage of a fixed rate mortgage is that you run the risk of missing lower payments when the interest rate goes down. The difference in the amount that you pay each month can be substantial if you have an adjustable rate mortgage and the interest rate is lowered. This not only saves you money each month, but also potentially helps you pay off your mortgage sooner. Of course, nobody can ever accurately predict when interest rates are going to drop, although it is sometimes possible to have some indication and base your decision upon that.

A change in the interest rate can make a huge difference in determining the amount that you end up paying for your home. A homeowner with a 30-year mortgage can enjoy average savings of around $50,000 over the term of their mortgage with the interest rate being lowered by just one point. And an increase in the interest rate of just one or two percent can mean monthly payments that are between $50 and $250 higher, depending on the cost of your home. The decision to take a fixed rate or adjustable mortgage may also depend on whether you are taking out a 15 or 30-year mortgage.

One compromise of sorts is to take out a fixed rate mortgage and then refinance your loan when interest rates are lowered. Another option with a fixed rate mortgage (or an adjustable rate mortgage) is to pay extra each month towards the principal, thus saving a large amount in interest charges – as well as making the term of the mortgage shorter and owning your home sooner. Make sure that any extra amount that you pay is going towards the principal and not the interest.

It is a huge decision – whether to play it safe and take the fixed rate, or take a chance and go with the adjustable rate mortgage. Ultimately, the decision is yours; but be sure to get some good financial advice before deciding. A fixed rate mortgage has many advantages and disadvantages; you just have to decide which is best for your financial situation.